Calamansi or calamondin is a popular citrus fruit in the Philippines. According to the Department of Agriculture (DA), it can grow in backyards and can thrive in a wide variety of environmental conditions. It is a small tree with a height ranging from 2 meters to 7.5 meters at maturity.
Like its relatives, such as the mandarin, pomelo, and sweet orange, the calamansi is rich in phosphorous, calcium, iron, and Vitamin C. It can be used as flavoring ingredient in desserts or as an additive in various food preparations, such as fish steak. Pinoys who love to eat inihaw would almost always dip barbecued meats in soy sauce with calamansi and chili.
It is a versatile fruit, just like the coconut, as it is used in making beverages, syrups, concentrates and purees. The peel, according to the DA, is made into jams, candies and marmalade. Because of its unique flavor and health benefits, it probably did not come as a surprise for Filipinos who participated in a recent food fair in China that calamansi juice became an immediate hit among the Chinese.
An official of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) disclosed that Chinese consumers who flocked to the recent China-Asean Expo (Caexpo) had fallen in love with the citrus fruit. The Chinese became big fans of calamansi juice and were also partial to other food items sold by exhibitors like banana chips and soft candies made of durian. The calamansi juice was so popular among the visitors that one buyer ordered 32 container vans of the healthy drink. (See, “Supply woes prevent PHL from hiking fruit exports to China,” in the BusinessMirror, September 21, 2023).
Unfortunately, the Filipino exhibitor could not commit to delivering the 32 container vans because of supply issues. DTI officials said capacity constraints are making it more difficult not only for calamansi juice sellers, but also for other makers of fruit-based food items to deliver the requirements of the Chinese who have developed a taste for these products.
Trade exhibits like Caexpo give local suppliers, particularly small and medium enterprises, a chance to offer their products to an international audience. However, the opportunities that they gain from their exposure to such events become missed chances if Philippine exporters and suppliers could not provide the requirements of prospective buyers. At a time when Filipino businessmen need other sources of revenue, it is disheartening to hear that they cannot fill the orders of potential customers just because they could not source enough calamansi, bananas or durian in their own country.
The calamansi, for one, can be grown all-year round, which means local producers should be able supply the volume requirements of exporters. Dollar earnings from products such as the calamansi juice would translate into more jobs for a country that is aspiring to achieve upper middle-income status in two years. It would do well for concerned agencies to work together with producers to determine the next steps that would enable our local businessmen to take full advantage of the opportunities presented by international trade exhibits such as Caexpo.